Reformation, Revolution, & Enlightenment

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Throughout history, huge developments in science, art, building, etc. were usually attributed to a group of people or a civilization. For example, cuneiform was made by the Sumerians, pyramids were built by the Egyptians, and democracy was developed by the Greeks. Very few of the major inventions and ideas in the ancient world were accredited to an individual. In the ancient world, civilizations work together as one, and the individual had no place in society. Everything was about being one. However, starting with the Renaissance, and leading up to the Reformation, Scientific Revolution, and Enlightenment periods, the focus switches. The individual was finally in the picture.

This change begins in the 1300s with the start of the Renaissance. The Europeans started to take Greek and Roman ideas of art, philosophy, and science, and they began to develop their minds and broaden their knowledge of the modern world. Humanists were the first to challenge the Church’s teachings that individuality and achievement were unimportant. They introduced the idea of the “Renaissance man,” and people were suddenly educating themselves in many areas of study, and they started to break away from what the Church had been teaching them. Sciences such as history, geography, politics, and ideas about the natural world became the topics to study.

Renaissance ideas were already being spread very quickly, but thanks to Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in the mid-1400s, ideas could be published and spread through Europe like wildfire. William Shakespeare, a writer in the mid-1500s wrote a wide variety of histories, comedies, and tragedies. A perfect example of a Renaissance man, he had a wide knowledge of natural science, human nature, literature, and humanist topics. Though he wrote for the queen, his message, which included political satire and earthy humor, was directed towards the regular folk. Another writer of the mid-1500s was Miguel Cervantes. The story of...
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